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Gerald McCoy signs with the Carolina Panthers

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A name many thought would be on Atlanta’s radar following his release is headed to an NFC South rival.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Gerald McCoy agreed to terms on Monday with the Carolina Panthers on a one-year deal worth $8.5 million, with an opportunity for that figure to increase to $10.25 million based on incentives, according to Adam Schefter. The signing bonus is worth $4 million.

McCoy was a big-name defensive tackle who was released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on May 20, and he had many teams vying for his services in the immediate aftermath. Many Falcons fans had dreams of bringing McCoy to Atlanta, but the Birds never even scheduled a visit.

McCoy sticks in the NFC South, where he’ll have two opportunities to play against his former team, which released him after nine seasons and then gave his number 93 to his replacement — Ndamukong Suh. There seem to be some hurt feelings, meaning that this year’s Panthers-Bucs matchups may actually be exciting for the first time in a decade.

According to Schefter, McCoy thought he would sign with the Baltimore Ravens following his meeting with them, but was then “wowed” by the Panthers in his visit with Carolina.

According to Over the Cap, the Falcons currently project to have $6.6 million in cap space, making it understandable why the team wasn’t a major player in the McCoy sweepstakes.

Thomas Dimitroff always likes to go into the season with a few million in cap room for emergency situations, so Atlanta never would have had a chance at this kind of signing unless they would have quickly come to terms with Grady Jarrett and Julio Jones on their looming contract extensions.

The Panthers get a very legitimate and effective defensive tackle, who was a Pro Bowl selection for six straight seasons before last year.